Microbiology, Immunology & Physiology
Welcome to the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Physiology at Meharry Medical College
We are an inclusive community whose passion for discovery, service, leadership, and sharing knowledge addresses issues of infectious and cardiovascular diseases that significantly affect African American and disadvantaged minority populations. We aim to develop new treatments to reduce health disparities and tackle immunology challenges.
Unlocking the Mysteries of Microbial Pathogens, their Interactions with the Host, Microbial Immunity, and Cardiovascular Disease.
Our faculty members study several aspects of molecular microbial pathogenesis, microbial biochemical pathways, molecular pathogen interactions with the host, microbial immunity, and cardiovascular disease to develop new drugs and vaccines.
Our faculty uses cutting-edge approaches and innovative strategies to study molecular microbial pathogenesis, striving to understand the mechanisms by which viruses (including HIV), bacteria, fungi, and protozoan parasites elicit pathogenesis in the infected host. Conversely, researchers also investigate the molecular pathways by which the host immune response strives to overcome these infections. Investigators also study the unique organelles in protozoan pathogens to develop new drugs for parasitic diseases. The faculty also addresses important questions underlying the mechanisms of the physiological and pathophysiological activities of the cardiovascular and reproductive systems that disproportionately affect underrepresented populations.
As a result, members of the department and their teams have discovered novel mechanisms of pathogenesis for HIV, protozoan pathogens, innate immunity to intracellular pathogens, and elucidated protozoa-cell interphase leading to infection. The faculty also discovered new host factors that play critical roles in the infection of intracellular pathogens, novel regulators of microbial infections in the heart, new pathogen molecules that are essential for pathogen survival that are targets for drug development, and new cutting-edge vaccines for parasitic diseases. They also have discovered several new mechanisms of innate immunity and novel small molecules that cure parasitic protozoan infections that affect the heart and new small molecules derived from microbial communities that inhibit HIV replication as new therapeutics for HIV infection. Investigators have discovered novel small molecules that target essential pathogenic protozoa and fungal molecules required for microbial survival that cure parasitic infections. Furthermore, investigators have elucidated the structure and function of the mitochondrial protein import machinery in pathogenic trypanosomes important for the design of a novel therapy for sleeping sickness.
In the other hand, members of the department have discovered new mechanisms of microbial- induced cardiopathogenesis, and novel mechanisms of atherosclerosis, atherogenesis, foam cell formation, and hypertension leading to cardiovascular disease.
Over the years our faculty members and their teams have published their discoveries in high-impact journals such Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Science, Cell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others.
We are Training the Next Generation of African American Scientists and Health Providers
In addition to their research, faculty members in the department teach in the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Graduate Studies including the Division of Public Health Practice.
We have been training the next generation of successful African American in infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The Microbiology, Immunology, and Physiology graduate Programs of the department has two NIH training grants for over 25 years.
The Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis Training Program (2T32AI007281-31) provides training opportunities to PhD and MD/PhD students in Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis in the areas of Cell Host and Microbe, Infection and Immunity, and Structure/Function of Virulence Factors.
The Research Training in Cardiovascular Biology at Meharry (2T32HL007737-26) provides training opportunities to PhD and MD/PhD students in cardiovascular biology to elucidate mechanisms causing cardiovascular as well as hematologic diseases.
Graduates from our Graduate Programs of the department are in outstanding academic positions, including research-intense institutions, in governmental agencies such as NIH, FDA, CDC, and EPA, and top Biopharma positions.
Meharry student Benem-Orom Davids has been highlighted by the highly prestigious Simon’s Foundation.Davids, who earned a doctorate in biochemistry from Meharry, is now a postdoctoral fellow in microbiologist Stephen Goff’s lab at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Meharry Ph.D. candidate, Ireti Eni-Aganga was recently featured in the American Society for Matrix Biology Summer Newsletter.
Ireti was awarded a complimentary registration to attend the inaugural International Extracellular Matrix Pharmacology Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Meharry graduate student and a Ph.D. candidate, Fidel Soto-Gonzalez recently won first prize for his oral presentation at the 2022 American Society for Microbiology Spring Meeting.
Fidel is currently finishing his thesis project in the laboratory of Minu Chaudhuri, Ph.D., in the Meharry School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Physiology. Upon completing his Ph.D., Fidel will join the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics led by Chief Orna Cohen-Fix, Ph.D. at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).Learn more